A Day of Service to Celebrate Our Island

June 3, 2018

It seems like only yesterday that we were pining for the warmth of the spring sun as the grip of winter continued its hold on our little ship in the East River. We braved the snowy, wet, and cold conditions well into April. 


Now, as our short spring of cool nights and perfect days has begun to wane, it is only natural that our minds wander to the days of active air conditioners, family dinners around the picnic table, and our Island children playing along our Island promenade. From Saturday night movies at Southpoint park (the lineup of which has already been announced) to youth baseball practice (well under way) and pool parties (many of our outdoor pools open this weekend), life on Roosevelt Island is ready to bloom fully into an idyllic picture of what summer should be in our sometimes crazy city.


Roosevelt Island Day


What a better way, then, to welcome summer and give a little back to our community than participating and attending this year’s Roosevelt Island Day? 


Saturday, June 16, will be a day of community service, family fun, games, pony rides, live music, a petting zoo, and so much more. Not only does Roosevelt Island Day allow us to come together and strengthen the bonds that make us a community, meet neighbors old and new, and have another excuse to be outdoors, but it is also a day where you, as an Island resident, can give back to the Island. 


Possibly lost in the years of fun and hoopla, it is often forgotten that Roosevelt Island Day was originally created as a day of Island service and beautification – a day where anyone and everyone is encouraged to arrive early, pick up a shovel, and plant new flowers and seedlings throughout the Island; to clean up and attend to Island elements that need attention and care; and to generally come together as a community to make our little ship on the East River a cleaner, more beautiful place to live, work, and play. This year, a particular focus will be on returning to Roosevelt Island Day’s community service roots with the theme “Island Beautification.” 


Interested in being a volunteer? All you need to do is show up on Roosevelt Island Day, raise your hand, and you’ll be given a T-Shirt and a task that needs attending. We hope to see all of you there. Make sure you come by the RIRA hospitality table, hosted by the RIRA Social Cultural & Education Committee, for some coffee, bagels, and juice on us, as well as a chance to catch up with your fellow neighbors. 


Island beautification starts at 9:00 a.m., with rides, amusements, and petting zoo starting at noon. All the festivities will culminate with a live concert at Good Shepherd Plaza, starting at 6:00 p.m. We’ll see you all there!


Roosevelt Island Races


Early in the wee hours of the morning this past Mother’s Day, a number of our Southtown neighbors were suddenly awakened with the initiation of the PA system, which was setup on Firefighters Field for the NYCRuns Mother’s Day road race. Although permitted by RIOC to commence PA use at 8:00 a.m., a large number of Southtown residents were awakened almost an hour before. 


Already alarmed by complaints earlier in the week as to the number of parking spaces that would be restricted and eliminated on a day when a number of off-Island family members were expected to visit, Southtown delegates Janet Falk and Mickey Rindler, along with a number of other Southtown Common Council members and residents, made formal complaints to RIOC and the Public Safety Department about the premature use of the PA system, and the fact that nearly a dozen road races have occurred, or are expected to occur, this year alone.  


Not only do these road races typically attract between a few hundred to nearly 2,000 attendees, but they also often result in road closures, unnavigable foot traffic, a large increase of infrastructure users, parking restrictions, negative impacts on public transportation options, and unmitigated elevated noise activity and pollution – all within the early weekend mornings. This is made even worse with the ongoing limited Tram service and, at times, lack of weekend F subway service. Such events continue to be a concern amongst a large number of Southtown residents, and Island-wide, and there are serious concerns and reservations in our community as to how RIOC is handling such events.


The RIRA Southtown Delegation recently met with RIOC to discuss the concerns raised, the policies and procedures currently in place with respect to such races, and potential changes to consider. We are looking forward to working with RIOC on a solution. 


Interested in finding out more or working on this issue? Contact Mickey Rindler at rindlm01@yahoo.com, who is heading up the efforts on behalf of Southtown.


Call for RIRA Treasurer


Do you or someone you know have either an accounting degree and/or is a certified CPA? Do you or that someone have experience supporting nonprofit organizations? Looking to get more involved in your community or to join the RIRA Common Council? Now is your chance.  

By becoming the organization’s treasurer, not only will you have an opportunity to support RIRA, but you will automatically become a voting member of the Common Council, a member of the executive board, and an advocate for your community. Interested? Contact me directly at jeffrey.escobar@gmail.com.  


Summer Hiatus & Fall Elections


Lastly, during the summer months, the Common Council takes its summer hiatus to reset and make plans for the upcoming year, as well as prepare for the new slate of RIRA Common Council members to be elected in the fall.  


All seats on the Common Council and its executive officer positions (including my own) will be up for grabs in an Island-wide election. Do you have a vision for what an Island-wide elected representative body should be? What issues it should undertake or advocate for? What is its role in the ever-changing population of the Island? 


Then consider running for the Common Council as either a building representative or as an executive officer. As with the national and state midterm elections this fall, the Island elections will be a pivotal one insofar as those newly elected Common Council members will be dictating what initiatives and direction the new RIRA Common Council will undertake for the next two years.  

Issues such as the explosion of the Island’s population and the securing of affordable housing in the remaining Related towers, the continued crumbling of our Island’s infrastructure and lack of community programming, and the groundbreaking for the hotel and convention spaces on Cornell Tech’s campus, will be just a few issues that the Common Council will be tasked to address.  

Do you have an interest in collectively solving these and many other Island issues? If so, I truly hope you will heed the call and run for a seat on the Common Council in the fall.  


Please take the time this summer to reach out to your building representative, voice concerns or goals you wish for him or her to undertake in the upcoming sessions, and ask any and all questions you might have. The success of the Common Council depends very much on each of you, as the community, to participate in solving Island concerns and to let your building representatives know what they can do to better serve you and the community.  


If you have any questions about what it means to serve on the Common Council, how to run for a seat, or how to get more involved, please do not hesitate to reach out to either your current building representative at contact@riraonline.com, myself at jeffrey.escobar@gmail.com, or either Janet Falk at janet.l.falk@gmail.com or Rosanna Ceruzzi at rosannaceruzzi@gmail.com, co-chairs of the Nominations Committee, for more information. 



Jeff Escobar, President

RI Residents Association



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